US 400m sprinter Michael Cherry (© Getty Images)
When the start of the USATF Open in Fort Worth was delayed due to stormy weather, athletes at the World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meeting realised that conditions may not be entirely conducive to fast times.
Strong winds did indeed impact most of the sprints, especially in the 100m and sprint hurdles, but Michael Cherry was seemingly unaffected by the conditions in the 400m as he cruised to a lifetime best of 44.37.
World champion Steven Gardiner, competing in lane five, got off to a strong start and breezed past Cherry on the back straight. The Bahamian entered the final straight with a comfortable lead but then started to tie up with about 40 metres remaining.
Cherry, drawn in lane six, drew level with Gardiner just as the early leader lost his footing, crashing to the ground. Cherry, meanwhile, continued to the finish and crossed the line a clear winner, taking a decent chunk off his previous best of 44.66 set four years ago.
No other athlete in the men's 400m bettered 46 seconds. And Gardiner thankfully confirmed after the race that he didn't sustain any serious injuries.
Multiple world and Olympic gold medallist Allyson Felix was similarly convincing in the women’s event. Jamaica’s Chrisann Gordon-Powell led coming into the home straight, but Felix produced a strong finish to come through and take the win in 50.88, her fastest time since 2017.
Three-time world 4x400m champion Jessica Beard finished second in 51.31 while Gordon-Powell held on to take third in 51.42.
World leader Rudy Winkler notched up another victory in the men’s hammer. The world finalist, who last month improved to 81.98m, came close to the 80-metre line in Fort Worth, throwing 79.53m in round two and 79.69m in round five to win by almost eight metres.
Maggie Malone set a lifetime best of 62.70m to win the women’s javelin, adding 32 centimetres to the PB she set earlier this year.
Strong headwinds slowed down most of the shorter sprint races, but the manner of Ronnie Baker’s 100m victory was nonetheless impressive. The world indoor bronze medallist, running into a -3.2m/s wind, stopped the clock at 10.39 to win by about two metres.
World leader Jasmine Camacho-Quinn continued her recent run of good form, winning the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.84 (-2.1m/s) to hold off a strong challenge from world indoor silver medallist Christina Clemons (12.92).
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics